Pinoy fishermen held in Eritrea will be home soon, DFA assures
THE nine Filipino fishermen, who were held by the Eritrean government for fishing in their waters, will be homeward bound once their travel documents are processed and the deportation proceedings take place.
This was the assurance that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) gave to Overseas Filipino Worker advocate Susan Ople who met with Jugie Estriba, the wife Pinamungajan native, Jumar, one of those held in Eritrea.
Jugie Estriba travelled three hours from Pinamungajan to Lapu-Lapu City to seek help from Ople, a senatorial candidate who was in Cebu to join presidential bet Grace Poe’s rally on Tuesday.
“My husband was arrested in February, and since then, we have lost contact with him. I am happy and thankful to know that he will soon be coming home,” Jugie Estriba said.
Ople said that the fishermen’s case underscores the need for a review into the deployment of fishermen to Saudi Arabia since they are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to the nature of their work.
“Since we don’t have an embassy in Eritrea, the Department of Foreign Affairs has been working on this case through the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where the fishermen were deployed and the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt which is the post nearest to Eritrea,” Ople said.
Ople said she learned about the plight of the 9 fishermen from Patnubay, a group of servant leaders based in Saudi Arabia.
“Even prior to the meeting with Mrs. Estriba, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center in partnership with Patnubay in Saudi Arabia and ACTS OFW party-list, has been monitoring this case. Yesterday, we brought the spouses of the fishermen to the DFA so that they can receive updates directly from the department,” Ople said.
“The nine fishermen were recruited from Manila to work in Saudi Arabia. They crossed the territorial waters of Eritrea and were immediately arrested. The fishermen had no choice because the vessel owner and ship captain gave the route. This is why I would like to ask the POEA to consider a temporary suspension in the deployment of fishermen to Saudi Arabia until we can guarantee their rights and welfare,” said Ople.
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